If I headed back to college today, I would major in comparative religions rather than political science.
John Kerry, "Religion and Diplomacy"
Religion is a major source of inspiration, meaning and controversy in human societies. Fast-moving forces of globalization, migration and technology continue to bring diverse communities into closer proximity, often creating new religious communities in the process. The Religious Studies program at Washington University gives students the opportunity to learn about diverse religions as well as to study past and current events with a critical but open mind.
Religious Studies covers a wide range of subjects. It could include religion and American or international politics, religion and music, unbelief, religion and literature, issues of race or climate change, or scriptural studies. As such, Religious Studies embraces research in all its disciplinary and interdisciplinary complexity. Courses offered by our program are thus taught by faculty from a variety of disciplines and areas, including the Danforth Center on Religion and Politics; Anthropology; Classics; East Asian Languages and Cultures; English; History; Jewish, Islamic, and Middle Eastern Studies; Music; and Political Science.
Pursuing a major in Religious Studies will help students to understand and appreciate the complex ways in which religious traditions inform human thought and behavior. A double major or a minor will also enhance a broad range of studies, from politics and law to business and medicine. If a student is preparing for the advanced academic study of religion, seeking to complement another area of study, or simply feeling the need to acquire a greater knowledge of religions, a major or minor in Religious Studies is excellent preparation for living and working in a pluralistic society and global culture.
|Contact:||Sarah O'Donnell, Administrative Assistant|
The Major in Religious Studies
Total units required: 30 units; 24 must be at the 300 level or higher
Required courses (6 units):
|Re St 102||Thinking About Religion||3|
|Re St 368||Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion||3|
Senior Capstone Experience (3 units): During their senior year, religious studies majors are required to take Re St 479 Senior Seminar in Religious Studies. Alternatively, students can fulfill the capstone requirement by writing a Senior Honors thesis.
Elective courses (21 units; 18 must be at the 300 level or higher): All majors must take at least seven courses chosen in consultation with their major adviser and that fulfill the following requirements:
- Broad coverage of religious traditions: Majors explore various religions by taking at least one course in four different traditions (e.g., Judaism, history of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, East Asian religions, South Asian religions, religion in the Americas).
- Course concentrations: Majors focus their interests on a single religious tradition or theme by creating two course concentrations: a three-course series and a two-course series.
Note: An elective course can count toward the fulfillment of both A and B.
Senior Honors: Qualified majors are encouraged to apply for Senior Honors. Applications are available on the Religious Studies website and are due prior to the end of the junior year. Students wishing to pursue this option need to meet the minimum honors requirements stated in this Bulletin and to satisfactorily complete, during their last two semesters, Re St 498 Independent Work for Senior Honors I and Re St 499 Independent Work for Senior Honors II. Full guidelines are available on the Religious Studies website.
Transfer Credit: A maximum of 6 units of course work completed elsewhere — whether at another college or university or through a Washington University–approved study abroad program — may be applied toward the major. Credit will be awarded only for those courses that have been approved by the Religious Studies program.
The Minor in Religious Studies
Total units required: 18 units; 12 must be at the 300 level or higher
Required courses (6 units):
|Re St 102||Thinking About Religion||3|
|Re St 368||Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion||3|
Elective courses (12 units; 9 must be at the 300 level or higher): Students pursuing the minor may choose their electives based on individual interest and in consultation with their minor adviser.
Transfer Credit: A maximum of 3 units of course work completed elsewhere — whether at another college or university or through a Washington University–approved study abroad program — may be applied toward the minor. Credit will be awarded only for those courses that have been approved by the Religious Studies program.
Visit online course listings to view semester offerings for L23 Re St.
L23 Re St 102 Thinking About Religion
Nearly everyone has had some experience with something they would call "religion," from at least a passing familiarity through the media to a lifetime of active participation in religious communities. But what do we actually mean when we use the word? What is a religion? What does it mean to call something a religion, or "religious"? And what does it mean to study religion, given the slipperiness of the concept itself? This course offers an introduction to the academic study of religion through a consideration of these questions: What is religion, and how can we study it? Do we need an answer to the first question to pursue the second? Why, and toward what ends, might we undertake such study? We will also consider what is at stake in our investigation and inquiry into religion — for the inquirers, for the subjects of inquiry, and for society more broadly — and what kind of lens the study of religion offers us on ourselves, our neighbors, and society, in turn. To these ends, we will discuss major theoretical approaches to the study of religion and significant work on religions and religious phenomena, toward a better understanding of what "religion" might be and how it might be studied today. No prior knowledge or experience of religion, religions, or anything religious is expected or required. This course is required for religious studies majors and minors.
L23 Re St 1200 Religious Freedom in America
The intersection of religion and law in American society has sparked some of the fiercest cultural engagements in recent memory: Should a for-profit religious corporation have a right not to fund birth control for its employees? Can a public college expel campus religious groups whose membership is not open to all students? May a Muslim in prison grow a beard for religious reasons? Should a cake baker or a florist be permitted to refuse services for a gay wedding? Can a church hire and fire its ministers for any reason? These current debates and the issues that frame them are interwoven in the American story. This course introduces students to the major texts and historical arguments underlying that story. Drawing from the respective expertise of the instructors, the course will expose students to a variety of scholarly methods related to the issue: legal history and case law, intellectual history and canonical texts, social history and narrative accounts, and political philosophy and contemporary analyses. This course is for first-year (non-transfer) students only.
Same as I60 BEYOND 120
Credit 3 units. EN: H
L23 Re St 1550 Temple & Palace in World History: Approaches to Religion and Politics in the Middle East
This course aims to examine the ways in which temple and palace cooperated with and competed against each other in the Middle East from ancient to the present times. As sites of spiritual and political power, temples and palaces have played a major role in human history. They have been a source of cooperation and conflict by inspiring and regulating the spiritual and social lives of people, including how they enacted laws, developed cultures, established institutions, and interacted with each other as individuals, families and societies. The course will trace how their interactions produced various models of authority, law and social association and how they collectively and separately rationalized social hierarchy and diversity in human societies. Introductory course to the major and minor.
Same as L22 History 1550
L23 Re St 180 First-Year Seminar in Religious Studies
This course is for freshmen only. The topic varies from semester to semester. Recent topics include Miracles; Sexuality in Early Christianity; and The Self in Chinese Thought.
L23 Re St 2030 Arch City Religion: Global Religion & Public Life in St. Louis
The St. Louis region is home to a diverse array of global religious communities, many with strong political leanings. This course directly introduces students to some of this religious and political variety by coordinating weekly fieldtrips to living institutions and interacting with religious leaders across traditions. In any given semester, our visits may include organizations that identify as Catholic, mainline Protestant, Evangelical, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Vedantist, Scientological, progressive Baptist, or secular humanist, among others. We will also visit the International Institute of St. Louis and study the politics of immigration and refugee resettlement that have helped shape the city. Through our visits and conversations, the multiplicity of each religious community will become apparent as we encounter adherents across the political spectrum, embodying different ethnicities and committed to different degrees of "orthodoxy" or traditional belief and practice. Students should emerge from the course able to analyze the complex intersections of religion and politics in the St. Louis metropolitan area, illustrative of the United States as a whole. Note: All required site visits will take place during the regular class time.
Same as L57 RelPol 203
L23 Re St 2062 Sophomore Seminar in History
This course is a sophomore seminar in history; topics vary per semester. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.
Same as L22 History 2062
L23 Re St 207 Scriptures and Cultural Traditions: Text & Tradition
When we think of the word scripture in antiquity, we might think of the texts that have been compiled in the different holy books that we currently have today. Yet the function of "scriptures" within a community and the status given to different texts treated as "scriptural" have changed in different times and places. In this course, we will consider texts that would eventually come to be part of the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and the Qu'ran as well as several of the exegetes and reading communities that shaped their various interpretations. We will explore how non-canonical sources played a role in the formation of the various canons we have today, comparing the authoritative status given to these texts to that given to other works from antiquity, such as the epics of Homer. Special attention will be paid to the role of the receiving community in the development of "scripture" and the variety of the contexts in which scripture can function in the construction of and opposition to religious authority.
Same as L93 IPH 209
L23 Re St 208F Introduction to Jewish Civilization: History and Identity
The anthropologist Clifford Geertz once famously invoked Max Weber in writing that "man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun. I take culture to be those webs." The main goal of this course — designed as an introduction to Jewish history, culture, and society — is to investigate the "webs of significance" produced by Jewish societies and individuals, in a select number of historical periods, both as responses to historical circumstances and as expressions of Jewish identity. Over the course of the semester, we focus on the following historical settings: seventh-century BCE Judah and the Babylonian exile; pre-Islamic Palestine and Babylonia (the period of the Mishnah and the Talmud); Europe in the period of the Crusades; Islamic and Christian Spain; Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries; North America in the 20th century; and the modern State of Israel. For each period, we investigate the social and political conditions of Jewish life; identify the major texts that Jews possessed, studied, and produced; determine the non-Jewish influences on their attitudes and aspirations; and explore the efforts that Jews made to define what it meant to be part of a Jewish collective.
Same as L75 JIMES 208F
L23 Re St 210 The Good Life Between Religion and Politics
What constitutes a life well lived? How do we imagine answers to that question? Who gets to answer that question for us? Do we ask it as an "us" or as an individual? This course considers the way religious and political thought has shaped considerations of the classical ethical question of how we should live and the way that ethics has often served to connect religion and politics in thought and practice. Do we need a religious basis to answer ethical questions, or can we determine how to live without religious sources of authority? Is ethics a project of an individual or of communities? If the latter, are these political communities, religious ones, or something else? On what basis or with what capacities can we imagine new answers to ethical questions, either in community or on our own? We will discuss these questions and more through a consideration of a range of answers to the question of how we should live.
Same as L57 RelPol 210
L23 Re St 210C Introduction to Islamic Civilization
A historical survey of Islamic civilization in global perspective. Chronological coverage of social, political, economic and cultural history are balanced with focused attention to special topics, which include: aspects of Islam as religion; science, medicine and technology in Islamic societies; art and architecture; philosophy and theology; interaction between Islamdom and Christendom; Islamic history in the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia and Central Asia as well as Africa; European colonialism; globalization of Islam and contemporary Islam.
Same as L75 JIMES 210C
L23 Re St 224 Islamic Religion
Survey of the development of Islamic practice and thought from the emergence of Islam in early seventh century CE to the present.
L23 Re St 225 Religion and Politics in American History
The United States has often been imagined as both a deeply Christian nation and a thoroughly secular republic. These competing visions of the nation have created conflict throughout American history and have made the relationship between religion and politics quite contentious. This course surveys the complex entanglements of religion and public life from the colonial era through the contemporary landscape. Topics covered include: religious liberty and toleration, secularization, the rise of African-American churches, the Civil War, national identity and the Protestant establishment, the religious politics of women's rights, religion and the presidency, the Cold War, the religious left and right, and debates over church-state separation.
Same as L57 RelPol 225
L23 Re St 2300 Black-Jewish Relations in the United States
The relationship of blacks and Jews in the United States is at once intimate and strained, mutually beneficial and antagonistic. This course examines this uneasy alliance from a number of perspectives including anthropology, politics and identity politics, history, religion and class. Beginning with American anthropology's Jewish founding father, Franz Boas, challenging the concept of race, the course traces the relations of blacks and Jews throughout the 20th century and in our contemporary moment. We will pay particular attention to the civil rights era, which is commonly upheld as the golden age of black-Jewish relations, as well as to this alliance's unraveling in the post-civil rights era. The course then moves to a unit focused on more recent ruptures and collaborations including the 1991 Crown Heights race riots, during which Orthodox Jews clashed with their black neighbors, and Jewish involvement in the Black Lives Matter movement. The course concludes with a unit on identity and identity politics focused on the complexity and fluidity of the categories "white," "black" and "Jewish."
Same as L57 RelPol 230
L23 Re St 236F Introduction to East Asian Religions
This introductory course provides a basic, yet systematic, overview of certain major religious traditions that evolved in East Asia, particularly in China and Japan, but also in Korea. We begin with the classical Chinese traditions of Confucianism and Daoism, then turn our attention to Buddhism, which originated in India (ca. 500 BCE) and was later introduced into China (first century CE), Korea (fourth century CE) and Japan (sixth century CE). We then examine the Japanese tradition of Shinto, and focus more specifically upon the development of new Japanese forms of Buddhism. The course ends with a brief look at the coming of some of these religions to the West, and in particular the United States.
L23 Re St 2400 Jewish Political Thought
This course uses the concepts of political theory to explore the diverse Jewish political tradition. While this tradition includes writing from and about the three historical periods of Jewish self-rule (including the modern state of Israel), most of the Jewish political tradition comes from the understanding of politics as viewed from outsiders to mainstream communities. Additionally, Jewish political thought can be found through a Jewish community's self-understanding based on its interpretation of Jewish text and law by which it bound itself. Because we span over 2,000 years of recorded history, we will not attempt to discern a single "Jewish political thought" but rather look at JPT through the lens of familiar concepts of political theory. The fundamental questions we will explore are the relationship of the Jewish tradition to concepts such as authority, law, consent, sovereignty and justice. We will ask how the Jewish tradition views government and the relationship between the authority of God and the authority of temporal powers. We will explore these questions through a range of materials that include both primary and secondary literature.
Same as L57 RelPol 240
L23 Re St 2450 Love and Reason
Love often seems dramatically unreasonable, and reason can seem coldly rational in a way that excludes any emotion, passion, or affiliation even akin to love. The supposed opposition between love and reason has been used by Christian and secular thinkers throughout modernity to organize ways of knowing and judging, and to criticize claims of faith, belief, and desire. But are love and reason really so distinct? What does it mean to say so, and why might someone make this claim? Can love be reasoned, and even reasonable? Can reason be aided by love, and even driven by it? How might different answers to these questions affect our understanding of other possibly unreasoned categories like faith, belief, and piety? This course offers an introduction to modern Christian thought and Western philosophy through these questions and themes.
Same as L57 RelPol 245
L23 Re St 2500 Zionism
Zionism is often thought of as a commitment to the principle that the Jewish People, as a distinct "people," has a right to self-determination in its own historical land of the biblical Palestine. Yet the history of the term and the set of ideologies show a much more complex understanding. In this course we trace the emergence of a number of different "Zionisms" that would lead to the creation of the modern state of Israel. And we explore how the political principles at the core of these ideologies have fared in the 65 years since the founding of the modern Jewish state. The course is at its heart applied political theory: a case study of the way that ideas emerge from historical events, take on a life of their own, and then shape real outcomes in the world. The readings will weave together history, philosophy, literature and government.
Same as L57 RelPol 250
L23 Re St 255 Religion, Environmentalism, and Politics
This course explores the intersections of anthropology, theology, economic interests, and activism. We will draw on a range of sources including social-scientific theories about religion and ritual, discussions of disenchantment and re-enchantment, and indigenous claims to land. These theoretical frameworks will provide context for discussing contemporary religious responses to ecological disaster, including both environmentalist and anti-environmentalist movements.
Same as L57 RelPol 255
L23 Re St 2600 Religion in the African-American Experience: A Historical Survey
This course introduces students to important themes in the history of African-American, and thus in American, religious history, among them slavery, emancipation, urbanization, migration, consumer culture, sexuality, politics and media technologies. Primary attention is given to Afro-Protestantism in North America and the cultural, social and religious practices and traditions of these black communities. However, students will also be introduced to specific expressions of religious diversity and varying religious traditions and practices in African-American communities.
Same as L57 RelPol 260
L23 Re St 280 African-American Religions
This course is an introduction to African-American religions, and it attends to the changes wrought in indigenous African religions by enslavement, the adoption of Christianity by slaves themselves, the building of African-American denominations, the rise of new black religious movements, and the role of religion in contemporary African-American life. The course begins with a brief introduction to key themes and problems in the study of African-American religions. The second part, which makes up the bulk of the course, moves chronologically and situates African and African-American religions in their shifting cultural and political contexts from the beginning of the European slave trade to the present. We will discuss African-Americans' practice of several religious traditions: indigenous African religions, Islam, Protestant and Catholic Christianity, and new religious movements. The final part of the course focuses on several key issues and debates that are informed by the study of African-American religions and that have important connections with contemporary American life.
Same as L57 RelPol 280
L23 Re St 285 Islam in America
In this course, we examine the notion of a religiously plural America and analyze Muslims' place within it. We consider the ways that American Muslims both shape and are shaped by U.S. society as both religious actors with autonomy and as a marginalized outgroup. In our approach to understanding Islam in America, we will use the category of race to explore three major themes: (1) the history of Muslims in the United States; (2) the lived experiences of American Muslims, including how they engage sacred texts and rituals; and (3) the phenomenon of Islamophobia.
Same as L57 RelPol 285
L23 Re St 290 Islamophobia & U.S. Politics
The presence of Muslim minorities in the West is increasingly divisive across the United States and Europe as political leaders appeal to voters' fear of the "other" to promote Islamophobic agendas that reshape immigration and asylum policies and redefine Western identity as Christian. Politicians further exploit the rise of extremist groups like ISIS to justify anti-Muslim rhetoric and to critique multiculturalism, claiming that Islam and the West are inherently antithetical. In this course, we examine the phenomenon of Islamophobia as a form of anti-Muslim racism. We explore how, although the post-9/11 context gave way to an increase in incidents of anti-Muslim violence, contemporary manifestations of Islamophobia are deeply rooted in state level anti-Black racism from the early 20th century. We also analyze public U.S. debates on the boundaries of freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
Same as L57 RelPol 290
L23 Re St 300 Introduction to the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
The Hebrew Bible is the foundational text of Judaism and Christianity. It is a complex compilation of materials, reflecting great diversity in ideology, literary expression, social and political circumstances, and theology. In this course, we shall read a significant amount of the Bible in English translation. We shall study the various approaches that have been taken by scholars in trying to understand the Bible in its historical context. We shall also study how the Bible was traditionally interpreted by Jews and Christians during the last two thousand years.
L23 Re St 3011 Intermediate Greek: The New Testament
A reading of texts from the New Testament as well as others of relevance to the religions of the Roman Empire. Prerequisites: Greek 317C or permission of the instructor.
Same as L09 Greek 301
L23 Re St 3012 Biblical Law and the Origins of Western Justice
This course will explore how law developed from the earliest periods of human history and how religious ideas and social institutions shaped law. The course will also illuminate how biblical law was influenced by earlier cultures and how the ancient Israelites reshaped the law they inherited. It will further analyze the impact of biblical law on Western culture and will investigate how the law dealt with those of different social classes and ethnic groups, and we will probe how women were treated by the law.
Same as L75 JIMES 3012
L23 Re St 303 Daoist Traditions
This course offers an introduction to the history, practices and worldviews that define the Daoist traditions. Through both secondary scholarship and primary texts, we consider the history of Daoism in reference to the continuities and discontinuities of formative concepts, social norms, and religious practices. Our inquiry into this history centers on consideration of the social forces that have driven the development of Daoism from the second century to the modern day. Special consideration is given to specific Daoist groups and their textual and practical traditions: the Celestial Masters (Tianshi), Great Clarity (Taiqing), Upper Clarity (Shangqing), Numinous Treasure (Lingbao), and Complete Perfection (Quanzhen). Throughout the semester we also reflect on certain topics and themes concerning Daoist traditions. These include constructions of identity and community, material culture, the construction of sacred space, and cultivation techniques.
L23 Re St 3030 Love Songs and Laptops: Rediscovering Medieval Music in the Digital Age
Using our laptops as portals into the past, students will gain first-hand experience as historical detectives. In this course, we will explore the world of medieval love — from the chivalrous and courtly to the bodily and obscene — as represented in books of songs from the 15th century. Scrumptiously decorated and preserved, five interrelated songbooks from central France, known as the "Loire Valley Chansonniers" contain the majority of love songs from this period. Working from digitized versions of the songbooks, online editions, and modern audio recordings, we will address the following questions: What do the songbooks tell us about the culture in which they were created? How do the graphic decorations that frame each song interact with its music and lyrics? Lastly, by contextualizing these digital sources with respect to the growing interest in the interface between the humanities and digital technology, we will discuss what we can gain from these developments and what — if anything — we stand to lose. (Ability to read music not required.)
Same as L27 Music 3030
L23 Re St 3031 Christianity in the Modern World
Survey of Christianity since the Reformation. Focus on the divisions in Christianity, its responses to modern science, the rise of capitalism, and European expansion into Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Attention to ecumenism and the contemporary status of Christianity in the world.
L23 Re St 3033 Religion and Healing
This course explores the relationship between religion and healing through historical and comparative study of Christian, Jewish and other religious traditions. We will examine how specific religious worldviews influence conceptions of the body and associated healing practices, how states of health and disease are identified and invested with religious significance, and how religious thought contributed to and coexisted alongside the growth of modern Western medicine. While much of the course will draw on specific case studies, students will be encouraged to pursue their own interests in the area of religion and healing through final projects.
L23 Re St 3044 Humors, Pox, and Plague: Medieval and Early Modern Medicine
This course examines how people thought about, experienced and managed disease in the medieval and early modern periods. Students will consider developments in learned medicine alongside the activities of a diverse range of practitioners — e.g., surgeons, empirics, quacks, midwives, saints, and local healers — involved in the business of curing a wide range of ailments. Significant attention will be paid to the experiences of patients and the social and cultural significance of disease. Major topics include: the rise and fall of humoral medicine; religious explanations of illness; diseases such as leprosy, syphilis and plague; the rise of anatomy; herbs and pharmaceuticals; the experience of childbirth; and the emergence of identifiably "modern" institutions such as hospitals, the medical profession, and public health. The focus will be on Western Europe but we'll also consider developments in the Islamic world and the Americas.
Same as L22 History 3044
L23 Re St 3050 Between Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.: Race, Religion, and the Politics of Freedom
This course focuses on the political and spiritual lives of Martin and Malcolm. We will examine their personal biographies, speeches, writings, representations, FBI Files, and legacies as a way to better understand how the intersections of religion, race and politics came to bare upon the freedom struggles of people of color in the U.S. and abroad. The course also takes seriously the evolutions in both Martin and Malcolm's political approaches and intellectual development, focusing especially on the last years of their respective lives. We will also examine the critical literature that takes on the leadership styles and political philosophies of these communal leaders, as well as the very real opposition and surveillance they faced from state forces like the police and FBI. Students will gain an understanding of what social conditions, religious structures and institutions, and personal experiences led to first the emergence and then the assassinations of these two figures. We will discuss the subtleties of their political analyses, pinpointing the key differences and similarities of their philosophies, approaches and legacies, and we will apply these debates of the mid-20th century to contemporary events and social movements in terms of how their legacies are articulated and what we can learn from them in struggles for justice and recognition in 21st-century America and beyond.
Same as L57 RelPol 305
L23 Re St 3051 Orthodoxy and Heresy in Early Christianity
From the time Jesus of Nazareth preached in the rural countryside of Judea, his followers interpreted his words differently and wrote varied accounts of what he said and did. As time passed and as Jesus' movement grew into a world religion -- Christianity -- disagreement among Christians only continued to increase, leading to the need to define and enforce correct beliefs and practices to create a Christian "orthodoxy" embodied in the now-familiar institutions of creed, canon, and clergy. Yet in the process of creating an orthodoxy, what was left out? Whose voices were suppressed? Through the careful study of ancient texts that were long-ago deemed heretical and virtually lost until the 20th century, this course examines the wide varieties of Christianity in its nascent years and discusses how the framers of orthodoxy defined themselves against these alternatives.
L23 Re St 3062 Islam, Culture and Society in West Africa
This course will explore the introduction of Islam into West Africa beginning in the 10th Century and explore its expansion and development in the region, placing emphasis on the 19th century to present day. It will focus on the development of West African Muslim cultural, social, religious, and political life, to understand not only how the religion affected societies, but also how West African local societies shaped Islam. The course also aims to introduce students to a critical understanding of Islamic writing in West Africa. It will also examine the organization of Muslim Sufi orders in West Africa through time and space. The course is organized around a series of lectures, readings, as well as print and visual media. For AFAS majors, this course counts as Area Requirement 4.
Same as L90 AFAS 3062
L23 Re St 3065 Voice, Language and Power: Late Medieval Religious Writing
In the later Middle Ages, there is a flowering throughout Christian Europe of religious writings that offer a new voice in which personal religious experience can be pursued and expressed. Their voices are mainly intended to be communal ones, to be contained within the Church and regulated by it. But in each case the fact that it is a voice may offer a mode of resistance, or of difference. Such writing is often aimed at lay people, sometimes exclusively at women; and sometimes the intended auditors become the authors, and propose a version of religious experience that claims a new and more intimate kind of power for its readers. This course looks at a wide range of such writing in vernacular languages read in translation (English, French and German), including the work of Meister Eckhart, Marguerite Porete, Margery Kempe, Julian of Norwich, Eleanor Hull, the anonymous writer of The Cloud of Unknowing and the perhaps pseudonymous William Langland, author of Piers Plowman. Whether such writing seeks to be orthodox or conducive to heresy, it presents a challenge to the power of clergy — a challenge that is written in the vernacular language of lay people, rather than clerical Latin, and in doing so offers distinctively new voices for religious experience. The course will also look at ways in which such work might have been influenced, if only oppositionally or at times indirectly, by contact with Muslim and Jewish writing (including Jewish exegesis of the Psalms).
L23 Re St 3074 Hinduism and the Hindu Right
We are witnessing a global rise in rightwing politics, and India is no exception. In May 2019, Narendra Modi and his "Hindu Nationalist" party were elected to power for a second term. Observers in the United States and Europe may be stunned by what seems to be a new development, but observers in India have been following the rise of the Hindu Right since the early 1990s. In its wake, the Hindu Right has brought violence against minorities; curbs on free speech; and moves toward second-class citizenship for Indian Muslims. This course will track the history of the Hindu Right in India from its 19th-century roots to the present. The struggle to come to grips with the Hindu Right is of immediate political relevance. It also raises big questions about the history of religion and the politics of secularism.
Same as L22 History 3074
L23 Re St 307F Introduction to the New Testament
What can be known — from an historical perspective — about the life and teachings of Jesus and his earliest followers? How did Jesus see himself and how did his followers see him? How did the lives, teachings and deaths of Jesus and his followers come to form the heart of a new movement? If Jesus and the apostles were all Jews, how did Christianity emerge as a distinct "religion"? This course investigates these questions through a focus on the earliest sources for Jesus and his first followers, including and extending beyond the canonical books of the Christian New Testament. Our approach in this course is historical and literary, rather than theological or confessional: We ask what Jesus, his first followers, and their Jewish and "pagan" contemporaries did and believed, and we try to catch glimpses of the worlds in which they lived and the cultures which they took for granted.
L23 Re St 3080 City on a Hill: The Concept and Culture of American Exceptionalism
This course examines the concept, history, and culture of American exceptionalism — the idea that America has been specially chosen, or has a special mission to the world. First, we examine the Puritan sermon that politicians quote when they describe America as a "city on a hill." This sermon has been called the "ur-text" of American literature, the foundational document of American culture; learning and drawing from multiple literary methodologies, we will re-investigate what that sermon means and how it came to tell a story about the Puritan origins of American culture — a thesis our class will reassess with the help of modern critics. In the second part of this class, we will broaden our discussion to consider the wider (and newer) meanings of American exceptionalism, theorizing the concept while looking at the way it has been revitalized, redefined and redeployed in recent years. Finally, the course ends with a careful study of American exceptionalism in modern political rhetoric, starting with JFK and proceeding through Reagan to the current day, ending with an analysis of Donald Trump and the rise of "America First." In the end, students will gain a firm grasp of the long history and continuing significance — the pervasive impact — of this concept in American culture.
Same as L98 AMCS 3081
L23 Re St 3082 From the Temple to the Talmud: The Emergence of Rabbinic Judaism
This course offers a survey of the historical, literary, social and conceptual development of Rabbinic Judaism from its emergence in late antiquity to the early Middle Ages. The goal of the course is to study Rabbinic Judaism as a dynamic phenomenon — as a constantly developing religious system. Among the topics explored are: How did Judaism evolve from a sacrificial cult to a text-based religion? How did the "Rabbis" emerge as a movement after the destruction of the Second Temple and how could they replace the old priestly elite? How did Rabbinic Judaism develop in its two centers of origin, Palestine (the Land of Israel) and Babylonia (Iraq), to become the dominant form of Judaism under the rule of Islam? How did Jewish ritual and liturgy develop under Rabbinic influence? How were the Rabbis organized and was there diversity within the group? What was the Rabbis' view of women? How did they perceive non-Rabbinic Jews and non-Jews? As Rabbinic Literature is used as the main source to answer these questions, the course provides an introduction to the Mishnah, the Palestinian and Babylonian Talmuds, and the Midrash collections — a literature that defines the character of Judaism down to our own times. All texts are read in translation.
L23 Re St 3091 Confucian Thought
This course is designed to introduce students to the history and teachings of one of the world's major religious traditions: Confucianism. We will examine how Confucianism developed in ancient China and afterwards spread throughout East Asia and beyond. In particular, we will pay attention to the issue of ritual and how Confucians attempted to ritualize social interactions and the world at large. In order to do so, we will engage in the writings of Confucius, Mengzi, and Xunzi, three early Chinese writers whose basic ideas about ritual heavily informed myriad cultural practices that are formative for large portions of East Asia today. Hence, this course on ancient thinkers not only introduces thoughts and practices prevalent throughout premodern China, Japan and Korea. It also functions as a catalyst that helps us understand some of the reasons and motivations behind these communities' recent efforts to renegotiate and question "the colonialist flavor" of human rights and democracy.
L23 Re St 3100 Religion and Violence
Is religion intrinsically connected with violence or merely manipulated to justify political positions and incite supporters? How has religion been the motivation and justification behind violent conflict, aggression and persecution? Does religion have a greater power to make war or peace? People have debated these questions for centuries as believers waged war in the name of their god(s). We'll study several critical theories about religion and violence and test them on historical and recent "religious" conflicts. Our investigation will be organized around five types of violence: 1) martyrdom and redemptive suffering, 2) claims on sacred space, 3) the violence of social stratification and "othering," 4) war and 5) apocalyptic and spiritual warfare. Case studies ranging from early Christian martyrs and crusades to attacks on abortion clinics and Tokyo subways will help clarify patterns and types of religious violence.
L23 Re St 3101 The Problem of Evil: The Holocaust and Other Horrors
The question of how God can allow evil to occur to the righteous or innocent people has been a perennial dilemma in religion and philosophy. We study the classic statement of the problem in the biblical book of Job, the ancient Near Eastern literature on which Job is based, and traditional Jewish and Christian interpretation of Job. We study the major approaches to the problem of evil in Western philosophical and religious thought.
L23 Re St 3102 Defense Against the Dark Arts: An Anthropological Approach to the Study of Religion and Health
This class is a comparative survey of religion, magic, and witchcraft as they are related to concepts of the body, health, healing and death across cultures. As such, students in this class will be expected to simultaneously learn details from particular magical and healing traditions studied in class, as well as to relate these details to theories about within the discipline of Anthropology (medical, cultural, psychological) and the field of Religious Studies. Special themes addressed in the class are the reasonableness of belief in magic, religion and religious practice as "magical," the body and definitions of health, healing, and illness and disease as symbolically, culturally, even magically constructed and experienced.
Same as L48 Anthro 3100
L23 Re St 311 Buddhist Traditions
This course examines the historical development of Buddhism from its origins in South Asia in the sixth to fifth century BCE, through the transmission of the teachings and practices to East Asia, Southeast Asia and Tibet, to contemporary transformations of the tradition in the modern West. In the first third of the course, we focus on the biographical and ritual expressions of the historical Buddha's life story, the foundational teachings attributed to the Buddha, and the formation and development of the Buddhist community. In the second third, we examine the rise of the Mahayana, the development of the Mahayana pantheon and rituals, and the spread of Mahayana in East Asia. In the final third, we explore the Theravada tradition in Sri Lanka and Thailand, then Tantric Buddhism in India, Tibet and East Asia. We close the course with an overview of Buddhism in the modern West.
L23 Re St 3110 Sacred Architecture of the Indian Subcontinent
The built structure remains the principal visible record of the evolution of a civilization and its culture. Through this interdisciplinary course on culture, design, religion and society, students will be introduced to and gain a deeper insight into the rich diversity of South Asia through the study of the architecture of its significant sacred places. We will take a journey through Hindu, Jain and Buddhist temples; the Islamic mosque; the Sikh gurdwara; the Zoroastrian fire temple; the Jewish synagogue; and the Christian church, tracing the evolution of these places of worship from the Indus Valley civilization to precolonial times. Through visuals, readings, and discussions, students will learn about the different architectural styles and motifs used in sacred buildings and how they came about. We will explore the interrelationships between the design elements through the lens of political, social, religious, regional and technological influences and understand the ways in which evolving design principles reflect these influences over time. At the end of the semester, students will go on a field trip to experience the diverse sacred architecture in the St. Louis region. This course will be of interest to students of languages and cultures, architecture, archeology, art history, history, preservation, religion, and South Asian culture, among others. No prior knowledge of architecture or the history of this region is required.
Same as L73 Hindi 311
L23 Re St 312 South Asian Religious Traditions
In this course we will learn the basic vocabulary (conceptual, ritual, visual) needed to become conversant with the various religious traditions that are important to personal, social, and political life on the Indian subcontinent and beyond. We will first encounter each tradition through narrative, with the support of visual media. We will then explore how contemporary adherents make these traditions meaningful for themselves -- in their everyday lives, in their struggles for social change, and in their political statements and contestations. Students will also become familiar with the analytical categories and methodologies that make up the basic toolkit of the religion scholar. Prior knowledge of India or Pakistan is not required. FIrst year students are welcome to enroll in this course.
L23 Re St 313C Islamic History 622-1200
The cultural, intellectual, and political history of the Islamic Middle East, beginning with the prophetic mission of Muhammad and concluding with the Mongol conquests. Topics covered include: the life of Muhammad; the early Muslim conquests; the institution of the caliphate; the translation movement from Greek into Arabic and the emergence of Arabic as a language of learning and artistic expression; the development of new educational, legal and pietistic institutions; changes in agriculture, crafts, commerce and the growth of urban culture; multiculturalism and inter-confessional interaction; and large-scale movements of nomadic peoples.
Same as L22 History 313C
L23 Re St 314C Islamic History 1200-1800
An introduction to Islamic politics and societies from the Mongol conquests to the 13th century to the collapse and weakening of the colossal "gunpowder" empires of the Ottomans, Safavids and Mughals in the early 18th century. Broadly speaking, this course covers the Middle Period (1000-1800) of Islamic history, sandwiched between the Early and High Caliphal periods (600-100) on the one hand and the Modern Period (1800-present) on the other hand. Familiarity with the Early and High Caliphal periods is not assumed. The course is not a "survey" of this period but a series of "windows" that allows students to develop both an in-depth understanding of some key features of Islamic societies and a clear appreciation of the challenges (as well as the rewards!) that await historians of the Middle Period. Particular attention is given to the Mamluk and Ottoman Middle East, Safavid Iran and Mughal India.
Same as L22 History 314C
L23 Re St 315 Virtues, Vices, Values: Regulating Morality in Modern America
This course takes morality and the question of "what's right" seriously as a lens through which to understand and assess modern American history. "Morality" is, of course, a devilishly flexible rhetoric, a language invoked to tell people how to act and how to be good, or, conversely, to criticize and to shame. When the state or a community wants its citizens or members to be "good," it crafts laws and creates customs to encourage or inhibit behaviors. Yet "good" is a contested concept, especially in a diverse, multiracial society. Thus this class examines a) how state and non-state actors, including religious leaders, have attempted to regulate the lived experiences of Americans and b) the conflicts that emerge over what, exactly, is correct, or right, or good for individuals, society, and the state. To what degree does calling something moral or immoral articulate or obstruct policy solutions? What do political coalitions oriented around "values" accomplish? Is it possible to hew to moral frames and remain inclusive and tolerant? Topics may include marriage, abortion, immigration, alcohol, incarceration, disease, money, and medical care.
Same as L57 RelPol 315
L23 Re St 3171 Religion and Culture in South and Southeast Asia
Although it is now common to differentiate between South and Southeast Asia, historically these regions have often been conceptualized as part of a single geographical area. Known as the "(East) Indies", this area is marked by a rich history of (earlier) Hindu and Buddhist influences, as well as (later) Islamic and Christian influences. The present course will take an in-depth look at the four aforementioned religious traditions, and examine how they have shaped local forms of culture in premodern and modern times. Students will be introduced to host of phenomena in South and Southeast Asian societies, including religious worship, education, law, traditional governance, colonial governance, art, architecture, economic production, kinship, gender, and sexuality. Countries to be studied in the course include India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Papua New Guinea.
L23 Re St 3192 Modern South Asia
This course covers the history of the Indian subcontinent in the 19th and 20th centuries. We look closely at a number of issues including colonialism in India; anticolonial movements; the experiences of women; the interplay between religion and national identity; and popular culture in modern India. Political and social history are emphasized equally.
Same as L22 History 3192
L23 Re St 321 American Religion and the Politics of Gender and Sexuality
Religious beliefs about gender and sexuality have long played a vital role in American politics, vividly evident in debates over such issues as birth control, censorship, pornography, funding for AIDS research, abortion, contraceptive access, abstinence-only sex education, sexual harassment, same-sex marriage and more. Educated citizens need to understand the impact of these religiously inflected debates on our political culture. This course explores the centrality of sex to religion and politics in the U.S., emphasizing Christianity (both Protestant and Catholic forms) and its weighty social and political role regulating the behavior of women and men, children and teens, as well as its uses in legal and judicial decisions. Alongside scholarly readings in gender and sexuality, we will discuss popular devotional texts — on chastity, marriage and homosexuality — with a political bent. Students will leave the course able to analyze how religious beliefs about sex shape specific gender norms central to U.S. politics.
Same as L57 RelPol 321
L23 Re St 323 Jews and Christians in the Premodern World
In modern times, it is common to think of Judaism and Christianity as two distinct, if historically connected, "religions." Increasingly, however, historians of ancient religions have thought more deeply about the implications of taking Christianity and Judaism in antiquity as more fluid and porous than we tend to think of them. In this upper-division course, we will explore the ways in which the boundaries that early Christians attempted to draw between Christianity and Judaism remained unstable and incomplete. While the various efforts to establish early Christian identity led to the production of a variety of hermeneutical representations of the Judaioi, these literary representations nevertheless often reflected, to various degrees, engagement with actual historical Jews/Judeans, who shared political, economic, and intellectual worlds with Christians. We will consider how early Christian discourse about Jews and Judaism informed and was informed by intra-Christian disputes and their negotiations of their relationships with the wider Greco-Roman culture. We will explore how Christian efforts to establish both continuity and difference between Judaism played a role in the construction of "orthodoxy" and "heresy," as well as the way in which Christians re-appropriated Jewish texts, rituals and ideas in their efforts to construct a Christian identity. We will also explore how this continued dynamic of difference and continuity continued into the Middle Ages.
L23 Re St 3262 The Early Medieval World 300-1000
This course begins with the crisis of the Roman Empire in the third century and the conversion of the Emperor Constantine to Christianity in 312. We will study the so-called "barbarian invasions" of the fourth and fifth centuries and the collapse of the Roman Empire in the West. The Roman Empire in the East (commonly known as the Byzantine Empire after the seventh century) survived intact, developing a very different style of Christianity than in the lands of the former Western Empire. In addition to examining Christianization in the deserts of Egypt and the chilly North Sea, we will discuss the phenomenon of Islam in the seventh century (especially after Prophet Muhammad's death in 632) and the Arab conquests of the eastern Mediterranean and north Africa. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or permission of the instructor.
Same as L22 History 3262
L23 Re St 3277 Philosophy of Religion
This course focuses on debates concerning the existence of God as well as on special issues that arise within religion generally and also on some that arise within specific religious traditions. Topics include: the rationality of religious belief, the problem of evil, the coherence of theism, and the freedom-foreknowledge problem.
Same as L30 Phil 327
L23 Re St 3293 Religion and Society
We take a broad and practice-oriented view of "religion," including uttering spells, sacrificing to a god, healing through spirit possession, as well as praying and reciting scripture. We consider religious practices in small-scale societies as well as those characteristic of forms of Judaism, Islam, Christianity and other broadly based religions. We give special attention to the ways religions shape politics, law, war, as well as everyday life in modern societies.
Same as L48 Anthro 3293
L23 Re St 3300 Native American/Euro-American Encounters: Confrontations of Bodies and Beliefs
This course surveys the history and historiography of how Native Americans, Europeans and Euro-Americans reacted and adapted to one another's presence in North America from the 1600s to the mid-1800s, focusing on themes of religion and gender. We will examine the cultural and social implications of encounters between Native peoples, missionaries and other European and Euro-American Protestants and Catholics. We will pay particular attention to how bodies were a venue for encounter — through sexual contact, through the policing of gendered social and economic behaviors, and through religiously-based understandings of women's and men's duties and functions. We will also study how historians know what they know about these encounters, and what materials enable them to answer their historical questions.
Same as L57 RelPol 330
L23 Re St 334C Crusade, Conflict, and Coexistence: Jews in Christian Europe
This course will investigate some of the major themes in the history of the Jews in Europe, from the Middle Ages to the eve of the French Revolution. Jews constituted a classic, nearly continuous minority in the premodern Christian world — a world that was not known for tolerating dissent. Or was it? One of the main purposes of the course is to investigate the phenomenon of majority/minority relations, to examine the ways in which the Jewish community interacted with and experienced European societies, cultures and politics. We will look at the dynamics of boundary formation and cultural distinctiveness; the limits of religious and social tolerance; the periodic eruption of persecution in its social, political, and religious contexts; and the prospects for Jewish integration into various European societies during the course of the Enlightenment era.
Same as L22 History 334C
L23 Re St 3354 Vienna, Prague, Budapest: Politics, Culture, and Identity in Central Europe
The term Central Europe evokes the names of Freud and Mahler; Kafka and Kundera; Herzl, Lukács, and Konrád. In politics, it evokes images of revolution and counter-revolution, ethnic nationalism, fascism and communism. Both culture and politics, in fact, were deeply embedded in the structures of empire (in our case, the Habsburg Monarchy) — structures which both balanced and exacerbated ethnic, religious, and social struggles — in modern state formation, and in the emergence of creative and dynamic urban centers, of which Vienna, Budapest and Prague were the most visible. This course seeks to put all of these elements into play — empire, nation, urban space, religion and ethnicity — in order to illustrate what it has meant to be modern, creative, European, nationalist or cosmopolitan since the 19th century. It engages current debates on nationalism and national identity; the viability of empires as supranational constructs; urbanism and modern culture; the place of Jews in the social and cultural fabric of Central Europe; migration; and authoritarian and violent responses to modernity.
Same as L22 History 3354
L23 Re St 335C Becoming "Modern": Emancipation, Antisemitism, and Nationalism in Modern Jewish History
This course offers a survey of the Jewish experience in the modern world by asking, at the outset, what it means to be — or to become — modern. To answer this question, we look at two broad trends that took shape toward the end of the 18th century — the Enlightenment and the formation of the modern state — and we track changes and developments in Jewish life down to the close of the 20th century with analyses of the (very different) American and Israeli settings. The cultural, social, and political lives of Jews have undergone major transformations and dislocations over this time — from innovation to revolution, exclusion to integration, calamity to triumphs. The themes that we will be exploring in depth include the campaigns for and against Jewish "emancipation;" acculturation and religious reform; traditionalism and modernism in Eastern Europe; the rise of political and racial antisemitism; mass migration and the formation of American Jewry; varieties of Jewish national politics; Jewish-Gentile relations between the World Wars; the destruction of European Jewry; the emergence of a Jewish nation-state; and Jewish culture and identity since 1945.
Same as L22 History 335C
L23 Re St 336C History of the Jews in Islamic Lands
This course is a survey of Jewish communities in the Islamic world, their social, cultural, and intellectual life from the rise of Islam to the Imperial Age. Topics include: Muhammad, the Qur'an and the Jews; the legal status of Jews under Islam; the spread of Rabbinic Judaism in the Abbasid empire; the development of new Jewish identities under Islam (Karaites); Jewish traders and scholars in Fatimid Egypt; the flourishing of Jewish civilization in Muslim Spain (al-Andalus); and Sephardi (Spanish) Jews in the Ottoman empire. On this background, we will look closely at some of the major Jewish philosophical and poetical works originating in Islamic lands. Another important source to be studied will be documents from the Cairo Genizah, reflecting social history, the status of women, and other aspects of daily life.
Same as L22 History 336C
L23 Re St 3392 Topics in South Asian Religions
The topic for this course varies. The topic for fall 2017 was Hinduism and the Hindu Right.
L23 Re St 3401 Pilgrims and Seekers: American Spirituality from the Transcendentalists to the Millennials
This seminar focuses on the formation of "spirituality" in American culture from the Transcendentalist world of Ralph Waldo Emerson on through more recent expressions of the "spiritual-but-not-religious" sensibility. How did "spirituality" come to be seen as something positively distinct from "organized religion"? What are the main contours of spiritual seeking in American culture, especially among those who claim no specific religious affiliation? The course also explores the social, political, and cultural consequences of this turn to the spiritual over the religious: for example, the consecration of liberal individualism, the relationship of religious exploration to both environmentalism and consumerism, the politics of cultural appropriation, the negotiation of religious pluralism, and the pursuit of the spiritual in art.
Same as L57 RelPol 340
L23 Re St 3421 Childhood, Culture, and Religion in Medieval Europe and the Mediterranean World
From child saints to child scholars and from child crusaders to child casualties, the experience of childhood varied widely throughout the European Middle Ages. This course will explore how medieval Jews, Christians and Muslims developed some parallel and some very much divergent concepts of childhood, childrearing, and the proper cultural roles for children in their respective societies. Our readings will combine primary and secondary sources from multiple perspectives and multiple regions of Europe and the Mediterranean World, including a few weeks on the history and cultural legacy of the so-called Children's Crusade of 1312. We will conclude with a brief survey of medieval childhood and its stereotypes as seen through contemporary children's books and TV shows. This course fulfills the Language & Cultural Diversity requirement for Arts & Sciences.
Same as L66 ChSt 342
L23 Re St 343C Europe in the Age of the Reformation
How should people act toward each other, toward political authorities and toward their God? Who decided what was the "right" faith: the individual? the family? the state? Could a community survive religious division? What should states do about individuals or communities who refused to conform in matters of religion? With Martin Luther's challenge to the Roman Catholic Church, the debates over these questions transformed European theology, society and politics. In this class we examine the development of Protestant and Radical theology, the Reformers' relations with established political authorities, the response of the Catholic Church, the development of new social and cultural expectations, the control of marginalized religious groups such as Jews, Muslims and Anabaptists, and the experiment of the New World.
Same as L22 History 343C
L23 Re St 3451 Religion and Race in the United States
Race and ethnicity are central to how religious pluralism is worked out in America. How do the categories of race and religion intersect to produce concepts of a normative American identity? In this course, we examine the construct of race across various American congregational communities in order to understand debates on American identity and belonging. We also explore the idea of an American civil religion, and we engage with the boundaries of inclusion and exclusion of particular religious groups within this category based upon racialized criteria.
Same as L57 RelPol 345
L23 Re St 346 Topics in East Asian Religions
This course explores one of the various topics in East Asian Religions. Recent topics have included "The Zhuangzi" (a Daoist classic); Tantric Buddhism; and death, dying and the afterlife in East Asian religions.
L23 Re St 3461 Zen Buddhism
This course is designed to introduce students to the history, teachings, and practice of Zen Buddhism in China (Chan), Japan (Zen), Korea (Sôn), and the United States. We will discuss how Zen's conception of its history is related to its identity as a special tradition within Mahayana Buddhism, as well as its basic teachings on the primacy of enlightenment, the role of practice, the nature of the mind, and the limitations of language. We will also look at Zen Buddhism and its relation to the arts, including poetry and painting, especially in East Asia. Finally, we will briefly explore the response of Zen teachers and practitioners to questions of war, bioethics, the environment and other contemporary issues. Prerequisites: Re St 203 or Re St 311.
L23 Re St 3465 Islamic Law
This course presents a general overview of Islamic law and an introduction to the study of religious legal authority which values consensus. It then explores the formation of the major schools of law. Next it debates the notions of "ijtihad" and "taqlid" and discusses how open and independent legal decisions have been in the Islamic world. It also traces the transmission of legal knowledge in religious institutions across time and place by focusing on medieval Muslim societies and by closely examining the education of a modern-day Ayatollah.
Same as L75 JIMES 346
L23 Re St 3513 Muhammad in History and Literature
This course intends to examine the life and representations of the Prophet Muhammad from the perspective of multiple spiritual sensibilities as articulated in various literary genres from medieval to modern periods. The course is divided roughly into two parts. One part deals with the history of Muhammad and the related historiographical questions. The second part deals with the representations of Muhammad in juristic, theological, Sufi, etc., literature. Because of the availability of primary sources in English translation, there is a healthy dose of primary source reading and analysis throughout the semester. Those students with advanced Arabic (and Persian and Turkish) skills are encouraged to engage sources in their original language.
Same as L75 JIMES 351
L23 Re St 3540 Anthropological and Sociological Study of Muslim Societies
This course introduces students to anthropological and sociological scholarship on Muslim societies. Attention will be given to the broad theoretical and methodological issues which orient such scholarship. These issues include the nature of Muslim religious and cultural traditions, the nature of modernization and rationalization in Muslim societies, and the nature of sociopolitical relations between "Islam" and the "West." The course explores the preceding issues through a series of ethnographic and historical case studies, with a special focus on Muslim communities in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Europe. Case studies address a range of specific topics, including religious knowledge and authority, capitalism and economic modernization, religion and politics, gender and sexuality, as well as migration and globalization.
Same as L75 JIMES 354
L23 Re St 3542 Christian Theology and Politics in the Modern West
This course engages students in the reading and analysis of influential religious texts from the Western Christian world from the mid-16th century to the present. The course also examines these texts in their historical context, raising questions about the relationship between theology and politics in the West. The course pursues such questions chronologically, with the first weeks devoted to Catholic and Calvinist contests over revelation and political authority during the 16th century to Puritan ruminations during the 17th century on the nature of worldly calling and personal eschatology. The next weeks concern 18th-century views of reason as a critique of traditional Christianity and Protestant responses centered on true virtue as a hedge against worldly loyalties. We then examine 19th-century discussions of the relationship between ethics, tradition, and religious experience. For the 20th century, we discuss texts that address Christian conceptions of redemption to issues of hypernationalism and race. The final weeks are devoted to recent theologies that have to do with the self and one's identity and current political crises. Juniors and seniors only. Sophomores by permission.
Same as L57 RelPol 354
L23 Re St 3551 The FBI and Religion
This seminar examines the relationship between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and religion (i.e., faith communities, clerics, and religious professionals) as a way to study and understand 20th-century religion and politics. The course will investigate the history of the FBI as well as the various ways in which the FBI and religious groups have interacted. The course will pay particular attention to what the professor calls the four interrelated "modes" of FBI-religious engagement: counter-intelligence and surveillance, coordination and cooperation, censorship and publicity, and consultation.
Same as L57 RelPol 355
L23 Re St 3554 Revolution with an Accent: The Haitian and French Revolutions, 1770-1805
How can politics enact fundamental changes? What make those changes a "revolution"? How do we judge the legitimacy of such changes? When these questions arise over the course of ordinary political arguments, the example of the French Revolution often looms large, casting a shadow tinted with blood and Terror. Much less present in the collective political imagination is the Haitian Revolution. These two events are complex and complicated, and are filled with fascinating, chilling, inspired characters, enflamed rhetoric and challenging questions. This course will examine both the unfolding of events and the rise and fall of protagonists within these two Revolutions and will explore the ways that issues such as religion, state finance, loyalty, race, slavery became politicized.
Same as L22 History 3554
L23 Re St 3571 God in the Courtroom
The U.S. Constitution holds a promise to secure freedom of religion through its First Amendment. Its two religion clauses declare unconstitutional any prohibition on the free exercise of religion and laws respecting the establishment of religion. The consequence is that, whenever a group demands to be recognized as religious and to be granted the right to exercise its religion, a court, a legislature, or an administrative official must determine whether the religious practice in question is legally religious. This means that law plays a uniquely important role in defining religion in the United States. In this seminar, we will explore the relation between law and religion in America. We will study the religion clauses in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, the histories of their interpretations by American courts in landmark cases, and the ways that religious studies scholars have understood and critiqued these cases.
Same as L57 RelPol 357
L23 Re St 359 Travelers, Tricksters, and Storytellers: Jewish Travel Narratives and Autobiographies
Jewish literature includes a number of highly fascinating travel accounts and autobiographies that are still awaiting their discovery by a broader readership. In this course, we will explore a broad range of texts originating from the Middle Ages to the 19th century. They were written by both Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews hailing from countries as diverse as Spain, Italy, Germany, and the Ottoman Empire. Among the authors were pilgrims, rabbis, merchants, and one savvy business woman. We will read their works as responses to historical circumstances and as expressions of Jewish identity, in its changing relationship to the Christian or Muslim environment in which the writers lived or traveled. Specifically, we will ask questions such as: How do travel accounts and autobiographies enable their authors and readers to reflect on issues of identity and difference? How do the writers produce representations of an "other," against which and through which they define a particular sense of self? To what extent are these texts reliable accounts of their authors' personal experiences, and where do they serve their own self-fashioning? How do the writers portray Christians, Muslims and Jews from other cultural backgrounds than their own? How do they construe the role of women in a world dominated by men? How do they reflect on history, geography, and other fields of knowledge that were not covered by the traditional Jewish curriculum; and how do they respond to the challenges and opportunities of early modernity? This course is open to students of varying interests, including Jewish, Islamic, or Religious Studies, medieval and early modern history, European or Near Eastern literatures. All texts will be read in English translation.
Same as L75 JIMES 359
L23 Re St 3600 Religion and the Modern Civil Rights Movements, 1954-1968
The modern Civil Rights Movement is a landmark event in the nation's political, civic, cultural and social history. In many contexts, this movement for and against civil and legal equality took on a religious ethos, with activists, opponents and observers believing that the net result of the marches, demonstrations and legislative rulings would redeem and/or destroy "The Soul of the Nation." This seminar examines the modern Civil Rights Movement and its strategies and goals, with an emphasis on the prominent religious ideologies and activities that were visible and utilized in the modern movement. The course pays particular attention to the Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and Islamic traditions, figures and communities that were indifferent, combative, instrumental and/or supportive of Civil Rights legislation throughout the mid-20th century.
Same as L57 RelPol 360
L23 Re St 3620 Islam, Gender, Sexuality
The return of white nationalism and misogyny to the public sphere since the 2016 election has reinvigorated the trope of the subjugated Muslim woman as backwards and subservient to her male counterparts. Rather than devote our time to dispel stereotypes, in this course, we address the extent to which Western theories of feminism are useful to account for Muslim women's experiences across historical period and geographical region. By examining discourses of gender and sexuality, the ideals of the feminine and masculine in Islamic scriptures and jurisprudence, and subsequent encounters with Western imperialism, we investigate how gender informs social, political, religious, and family life in Islamic cultures. We employ a chronological approach to these topics, from considering the status of women in seventh-century Arabia to the period of Islamic expansion across Asia, North Africa, and the Iberian Peninsula and then to the colonial period and ending with the contemporary post-9/11 and post-2016 U.S. contexts, wherein debates over the status of Muslim women in society emerged with renewed vigor.
Same as L57 RelPol 362
L23 Re St 3622 Topics in Islam
Selected themes in the study of Islam and Islamic culture in social, historical and political context. The specific areas of emphasis are determined by the instructor.
Same as L75 JIMES 3622
L23 Re St 365 The Bible as Literature
The Bible is one book among many; the Bible is a book like no other; the Bible is not one book but many. The course will debate such positions and the different histories and practices of reading they involve. We shall read extensively in English translations of the Bible, both Jewish and Christian, with emphasis on literary form and ideas. We shall look at the Bible´s material forms, and the history of its interpretation and translation. The aim is not to adjudicate its meaning but to explore what over time it has been taken to mean, attempting to locate within the book the potential for different interpretations. The course requires, and should foster, attentive reading, vigorous yet courteous argument, and respect for the readings of others.
Same as L14 E Lit 365
L23 Re St 3650 Slavery, Sovereignty, Security: American Religions and the Problem of Freedom
The goal of this course is to think critically about freedom as an ideology and institution. What does it mean to be free? What are the relationships among individual liberties, national sovereignty, and civil rights? In what ways has freedom been defined in relation to -- and materially depended on -- unfreedom? At the same time, this course will treat American "religions" in a similar critical fashion: as a historically contingent category that has been forged and inflected within the same context of white Christian settler empire. Religion and freedom have intertwined throughout American history, including in the ideal of religious freedom. Our critical interrogation of freedom should help us think carefully about power, working with but also beyond tropes of domination and resistance.
Same as L57 RelPol 365
L23 Re St 366 Approaches to the Qur'an
The place of the Qur'an in Islamic religion and society. Equal emphasis on text: the Qur'an's history, contents, and literary features; and context: the place of the Qur'an in everyday life, its oral recitation, artistic uses, and scholarly interpretation. Knowledge of Arabic not required.
L23 Re St 3660 The Sephardic Experience: 1492 to the Present
This course explores the history and culture of the Sephardic diaspora from the expulsion of Spanish and Portuguese Jewry at the end of the 15th century to the present. We will start with a brief introduction into the history of Iberian Jews prior to 1492, asking how this experience created a distinct subethnic Jewish group: the Sephardim. We will then follow their migratory path to North Africa, Italy, the Ottoman Empire, the Netherlands and the Americas. The questions we will explore include: In what sense did Jews of Iberian heritage form a transnational community? How did they use their religious, cultural, and linguistic ties to advance their commercial interests? How did they transmit and transform aspects of Spanish culture and create a vibrant Ladino literature? How did the Sephardim interact with Ashkenazi, Greek, North African, and other Jewish, Muslim, and Christian communities? How did Jewish emigres from Spain and Portugal become intermediaries between Christian Europe and the Ottoman Empire? What was the role of Sephardim in Europe's transatlantic expansion? How did conversos (converts to Christianity) return to Judaism and continue to grapple with their ambiguous religious identity? How did Ottoman and North African Jews respond to European cultural trends and colonialism and create their own unique forms of modern culture? How did the Holocaust impact Sephardic Jewry? The course will end with a discussion of the Sephardic experience in America and Israel today.
Same as L75 JIMES 366
L23 Re St 3670 Gurus, Saints and Scientists: Religion in Modern South Asia
Many long-standing South Asian traditions have been subject to radical reinterpretation, and many new religious movements have arisen, as South Asians have grappled with how to accommodate their traditions of learning and practice to what they have perceived to be the conditions of modern life. In this course we consider some of the factors that have contributed to religious change in South Asia, including British colonialism, sedentarization and globalization, and new discourses of democracy and equality. We consider how new religious organizations were part and parcel with movements for social equality and political recognition; examine the intellectual contributions of major thinkers like Swami Vivekananda, Sayyid Ahmad Khan and Mohandas Gandhi; and explore how Hindu, Islamic and other South Asian traditions were recast in the molds of natural science, social science and world religion.
L23 Re St 368 Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion
What is religion, and how can we study it? Do we need an answer to the first question to pursue the second? Why, and toward what ends, might we undertake such study? This course considers these questions through the investigation of significant attempts to study religion over the past century, paying particular attention to the methods, motivations, and aims of these works. Is the study of religion an effort to disprove or debunk it, or perhaps to support it? What would each mean? Is it an effort to describe the indescribable, or perhaps to translate complex beliefs and practices into a language in which they can be discussed by others? Why would such a translation be helpful, and to whom? Is the study of religion an investigation of a social phenomenon, an organization of communities, a specific formation of individuals, or perhaps a psychosis or illusion, evidence of the workings of power on our lives and the difficulty of bearing it? What is at stake in defining religion in these ways, and then in undertaking its study?
L23 Re St 36CA Heroes and Saints in India: Religion, Myth, History
This course provides an introduction to the history of modern India and Pakistan through the voices of the Indian subcontinent's major thinkers. We will spend time in the company of saints, from the "great-souled" Mahatma Gandhi to the Sufi scholar Ashraf 'Ali Thanawi, and we will travel alongside the heroes of peasant politics, women's rights, and struggles for national and social freedom and equality. We will immerse ourselves in the rich narrative heritage of India -- as it has been challenged, reworked, and harnessed for present and future needs -- from the 19th century through the present. Lecture and discussion format; prior knowledge of India or Pakistan not required.
Same as L22 History 36CA
L23 Re St 3700 Religion and the Origins of Capitalism
This course explores the economic, cultural, and social history of the origins of Anglo-American capitalism from 1500 to 1800. Throughout we will discuss the worldviews and day-to-day business decisions of the merchants who created England's transatlantic market order and empire. Rather than treat early capitalism only in terms of material or purely economic dynamics, it probes the intellectual constructs that combined with commercial innovations to form capitalism into a social system.
Same as L57 RelPol 370
L23 Re St 370C Islamic Movements: Reform, Revival, Revolt
As a religion and a social/intellectual and political movement, Islam has undergone constant reassessment since its inception 14 centuries ago; thus modern fundamentalist movements are the latest manifestation of long-term trends. An overview of this historical process, concentrating on contemporary Islamic movements and works by seminal thinkers.
Same as L75 JIMES 370C
L23 Re St 3730 Topics in Near Eastern Cultures
The topic for this course will change each semester; the specific topic for each semester will be given in course listings.
Same as L75 JIMES 373
L23 Re St 374 Of Dishes, Taste, and Class: History of Food in the Middle East
When the 13th century author Ibn al-Adim from the city of Aleppo, Syria, titled his book on food Reaching the Beloved through the Description of Delicious Foods and Perfumes, he was perhaps not concerned so much with simply how to satisfy hunger. Thinking through the title alone opens a window for us on all sorts of cultural, social, economic, and political questions about food and drink. Our history as humans with food is long and complicated. It extends from seeking basic nutrition to sustain our livelihood to contracting diseases. Food also plays a fundamental role in how humans organize themselves in societies, differentiate socially, culturally, and economically, establish values and norms for religious, cultural, and communal practices, and define identities of race, gender, and class. Food has been one of the most visible signs of social status in any given society and a vital part of many movements of political and social reform and transformation. Food has been a major question in trans-regional, international, and recently global cooperation and conflict as well. This course will cover the history of food and drink in the Middle East to help us understand our complex relation with food and look at our lives from perspectives we intuitively feel or by implication know, but rarely critically and explicitly reflect on. This course does not intend to spoil, so to speak, this undeniably one of the most pleasurable human needs and activities, but rather to make you aware of how food shapes who we are as individuals and societies. We will study the history of food and drink in the Middle East across the centuries until the present time, but be selective in choosing themes, geographic regions, and historical periods to focus on. Course work is geared toward increasing your ability to think about food and drink analytically as a socio-economic and cultural capital, noticeable marker of identity, and indicator of a political position. In a sense we will try to tease out in class why we are what we eat! Please consult the instructor if you have not taken any course in the humanities.
Same as L75 JIMES 374
L23 Re St 374C Kings, Priests, Prophets and Rabbis: The Jews in the Ancient World
We trace Israelite and Jewish history from its beginnings in the biblical period (ca. 1200 BCE) through the rise of rabbinic Judaism and Christianity until the birth of Islam (ca. 620 CE). We explore how Israel emerged as a distinct people and why the rise of the imperial powers tranformed the political, social and religious institutions of ancient Israel. We illuminate why the religion of the Bible developed into rabbinic Judaism and Christianity and how rabbinic literature and institutions were created.
Same as L75 JIMES 301C
L23 Re St 3750 In the Beginning: Creation Myths of the Biblical World
This course will study myths and epic literature from the Bible, ancient Egypt, the ancient Near East and ancient Greece about the birth of the gods, the creation of the world and of humanity, and the establishment of societies. These masterpieces of ancient literature recount the deeds of gods and heroes and humanity's eternal struggle to come to terms with the world, supernatural powers, love, lust, and death. This course will examine how each culture borrows traditions and recasts them in a distinct idiom. The course will further examine different approaches to mythology and to the study of ancient cultures and the Bible.
Same as L75 JIMES 3751
L23 Re St 375W In the Beginning: Creation Myths of the Biblical World: Writing Intensive
This course will study myths and epic literature from the Bible, ancient Egypt, the ancient Near East, and ancient Greece about the birth of the gods, the creation of the world and of humanity, and the establishment of societies. These masterpieces of ancient literature recount the deeds of gods and heroes and humanity's eternal struggle to come to terms with the world, supernatural powers, love, lust, and death. This course will examine how each culture borrows traditions and recasts them in a distinct idiom. The course will further examine different approaches to mythology and to the study of ancient cultures and the Bible.
Same as L75 JIMES 375W
L23 Re St 377 History of Slavery in the Middle East
This course examines slavery and its abolition in the Middle East and North Africa from 600 C.E. to the 20th Century. It addresses slavery as a discourse and a question of political economy. We begin with an overview of slavery in late antiquity to contextualize the evolution of this practice after the rise of Islam in the region. We then examine how it was practiced, imagined, and studied under major empires, such as the Umayyads, the Abbasids, the Fatimids, the Mamluks, the Ottomans, and the Safavids. In addition to examining the Qur'anic discourse and early Islamic practices of slavery, to monitor change over time we address various forms of household, field, and military slavery as well as the remarkable phenomenon of "slave dynasties" following a chronological order. We discuss, through primary sources, theoretical, religious, and moral debates and positions on slavery, including religious scriptures, prophetic traditions, religious law, and a plethora of narratives from a range of genres. We highlight a distinct theme each week to focus on until we conclude our discussion with the abolition of slavery in the 19th and 20th centuries. Topics of discussion include various forms of male and female slavery, Qur'anic and prophetic discourse on slavery, legal and moral views on slavery, slavery as represented in religious literature, political, military, and economic structures of slavery, issues of race and gender as well as slave writings to reflect on the experiences of slavery from within. The goal is to enable students to understand the histories of slavery in the Middle East and eventually compare it to that of other regions and cultures, such as European and Atlantic slavery. No second language required.
Same as L75 JIMES 377
L23 Re St 3801 Topics in Religious Studies
This course explores one of the various topics in Religious Studies. Recent topics include "Religion in the Kitchen" and "Religion, Transnationalism and Diaspora."
L23 Re St 381 Major Figures in Christian Thought
Critical examination of one or more of the major figures in Christian theology and apologetics (e.g., Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Kierkegaard). Subject matter varies each semester. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: a course in biblical literature, or permission of the instructor.
L23 Re St 382 Topics in Christianity
The topic covered in this course varies. Recent course topics include: "The 'Other' Catholic Church: The Lived Experiences of Eastern Orthodoxy"; "The Apostle Paul: Communities and Controversies"; and "Orthodoxy and Heresy in Early Christianity".
L23 Re St 3831 Magicians, Healers and Holy Men
Magic is perhaps not one of the first words one associates with Greco-Roman antiquity. Yet for most individuals living in the ancient Mediterranean, including philosophers, businessmen, and politicians, magic was a part of everyday life. Casting spells, fashioning voodoo dolls, wearing amulets, ingesting potions, and reading the stars are just some of the activities performed by individuals at every level of society. This course examines Greco-Roman, early Christian, and Judaic "magical" practices. Students read spell-books which teach how to read the stars, make people fall in love, bring harm to enemies, lock up success in business, and win fame and the respect of peers. Students also look at what is said, both in antiquity and in contemporary scholarship, about magic and the people who practiced it, which helps illuminate the fascinating relationship between magic, medicine, and religion.
Same as L08 Classics 3831
L23 Re St 3850 Jesus, Jazz, and Gin: the 1920s and the History of Our Current Times
This course is a historical survey of the dynamic relationship between religion and politics during the 1920s. The 1920s were a tipping point for a great deal of the fundamental issues that shaped the 20th century in the U.S. This course seeks to investigate how religious activism, evangelism, discourse, practice and reinvention contributed to and was shaped by such change.
Same as L57 RelPol 385
L23 Re St 385D Topics in Biblical Hebrew Texts
The topic covered in this course varies. Recent course topics include: "Jeremiah"; "The Book of Isaiah"; and "Biblical Poetry". Prereq: L74-384 or permission of the instructor.
Same as L74 HBRW 385D
L23 Re St 386 Topics in Jewish Studies
Consult course listings for current topics. Prerequisite: permission of instructor.
Same as L75 JIMES 386
L23 Re St 387 Topics in Jewish Studies
Consult Course Listings for current topics. Prerequisite: permission of instructor.
Same as L75 JIMES 385
L23 Re St 38C8 Religion and Politics in South Asia: Writing-Intensive Seminar
The relationship between religion, community and nation is a topic of central concern and contestation in the study of South Asian history. This course explores alternative positions and debates on such topics as: changing religious identities; understandings of the proper relationship between religion, community and nation in India and Pakistan; and the violence of Partition (the division of India and Pakistan in 1947). The course treats India, Pakistan and other South Asian regions in the colonial and postcolonial periods.
Same as L22 History 38C8
L23 Re St 3900 Mormon History in Global Context
The focus of this seminar is Mormonism, meaning, primarily, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is the largest Mormon body. Mormons in the United States have gone from being one of the most intensely persecuted religious groups in the country's history to the fourth largest religious body in the U.S., with a reputation for patriotism and conservative family values. In addition to introducing who the Mormons are, their beliefs and religious practices, this seminar will explore issues raised by Mormonism's move toward the religious mainstream alongside its continuing distinctiveness. These issues include: What is the religious "mainstream" in the U.S.? How did conflicts over Mormonism during the 19th century, especially the conflict over polygamy, help define the limits of religious tolerance in this country? How have LDS teachings about gender and race, or controversies about whether or not Mormons are Christian, positioned and repositioned Mormons within U.S. society?
Same as L57 RelPol 390
L23 Re St 3921 Secular and Religious: A Global History
Recent years have seen a dramatic rethinking of the past in nearly every corner of the world as scholars revisit fundamental questions about the importance of religion for individuals, societies and politics. Is religion as a personal orientation in decline? Is Europe becoming more secular? Is secularism a European invention? Many scholars now argue that "religion" is a European term that doesn't apply in Asian societies. This course brings together cutting-edge historical scholarship on Europe and Asia in pursuit of a truly global understanding. Countries covered will vary, but may include Britain, France, Turkey, China, Japan, India and Pakistan.
Same as L22 History 3921
L23 Re St 393 Medieval Christianity
This course surveys the historical development of Christian doctrine, ecclesiastical organization, and religious practice between the fifth century and the 15th, with an emphasis on the interaction of religion, culture, politics and society. Topics covered include: the Christianization of Europe; monasticism; the liturgy; sacramental theology and practice; the Gregorian reform; religious architecture; the mendicant orders and the attack on heresy; lay devotions; the papal monarchy; schism and conciliarism; and the reform movements of the 15th century.
L23 Re St 396 Islamic Philosophy, Mysticism, and Theology
How does an individual achieve access to knowledge and access to God? To what extent is such access dependent upon scripture? To what extent is such access dependent upon reason? Are there forms of truth and experience that only reveal themselves through mysticism? Questions of this sort are central to the interrelated disciplines of Islamic philosophy, Islamic theology, and Islamic mysticism (i.e., Sufism). This course examines how these three disciplines have shaped various aspects of social life within premodern Muslim communities.
L23 Re St 3977 The Making of the Modern Catholic Church
This course examines the work of three church councils that put their stamp on the Catholic Church at key moments in its history, making it what it is today. The first section is dedicated to the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), which defined the high medieval church as an all-encompassing papal monarchy with broad powers over the lives of all Europeans, Christian and non-Christian alike. In the second section we turn our attention to the Council of Trent (1545-1563), which responded to the threat posed by the Protestant Reformation by reforming the Catholic Church, tightening ecclesiastical discipline, improving clerical education, and defining and defending Catholic doctrine. We conclude with a consideration of the largest church council ever, Vatican II (1962-1965), which reformed the liturgy and redefined the church to meet the challenges of the modern, multicultural, postcolonial world.
L23 Re St 4002 Capstone Seminar: Convivencia or Reconquista? Muslims, Jews, and Christians in Medieval Iberia
The capstone course for Jewish, Islamic, and Middle Eastern Studies majors, Arabic majors, and Hebrew majors. The course content is subject to change.
Same as L75 JIMES 4001
L23 Re St 403 Topics in East Asian Religion and Thought
Topics in East Asian Religions is a course for advanced undergraduate and graduate students on specific themes and methodological issues in East Asian religions.
L23 Re St 4041 Islam and Politics
Blending history and ethnography, this course covers politics in the Islamic world in historical and contemporary times. Topics include history of Islam, uniformity and diversity in belief and practice (global patterns, local realities), revolution and social change, women and veiling, and the international dimensions of resurgent Islam. Geographical focus extends from Morocco to Indonesia; discussion of other Muslim communities is included (Bosnia, Chechnya, sub-Saharan Africa, U.S.).
Same as L48 Anthro 4041
L23 Re St 405 Diaspora in Jewish and Islamic Experience
Tensions between center and periphery; migration and rest; power and powerlessness; exile, home, and return are easily found in the historical record of both Jews and Muslims. For Muslims, it can be said that it was the very success of Islam as a world culture, and the establishment of Muslim societies in in all corners of the globe, that lay at the root of this unease. But the disruptions of the post-colonial era, the emergence of minority Muslim communities in Europe and North America, and the recent, tragic flow of refugees following the Arab Spring have created a heightened sense of displacement and yearning for many. Of course, the very term "diaspora"-from ancient Greek, meaning dispersion or scattering-has most often been used to describe the Jewish condition in the world. The themes of exile and return, catastrophe and redemption, are already woven into the Hebrew Bible and continued to be central motifs in Rabbinic Judaism in late antiquity and the middle ages. This, despite the fact that more Jews lived outside the borders of Judea than within the country many years before the destruction of Jewish sovereignty at the hands of the Romans. In the twentieth century, European imperialism, nationalisms of various types, revolution, and war-including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict-have done much to underscore the continuing dilemmas of Diaspora and home in both Jewish and Islamic identity. The goal of this course is to offer a comparative, historical perspective on the themes of migration and displacement, center and periphery, home and residence, exile and return, and to give students the opportunity to examine in depth some aspect of the experience of "Diaspora". Note: This course fulfills the capstone requirement for Jewish, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies. The course also counts as an Advanced Seminar for History. (Students wishing to receive History Advanced Seminar credit should also enroll in L22 491R section 19 for 1 unit.) The course is open to advanced undergraduate and graduate students.
Same as L75 JIMES 405
L23 Re St 4060 Convivencia or Reconquista? Muslims, Jews and Christians in Medieval Iberia
Jewish, Islamic, and Middle Eastern Studies senior seminar. This seminar will provide an opportunity to explore in some depth various facets of the convivencia ("dwelling together"; coexistence) of Muslims, Jews, and Christians in medieval Iberia. While we will pick up the timeline with the emergence of an Ibero-Islamic society in the eighth century CE, the seminar's historical horizon stretches up to the turn of the 15th to the 16th century, when Spanish Jews and Muslims were equally faced with the choice between exile and conversion to Christianity. Until about the mid-11th century, Muslims dominated most of the Iberian Peninsula. From roughly the mid-11th through 15th centuries, Christians ruled much and eventually all of Spain and Portugal. Through a process termed, from a Christian perspective, as reconquista ("reconquest"), Catholic kingdoms acquired large Muslim enclaves. As borders moved, Jewish communities found themselves under varying Muslim or Christian dominion, or migrated from one realm to the other. Interactions between the three ethno-religious communities occurred throughout, some characterized by mutual respect and shared creativity and others by rivalry and strife. The course focuses on these religious and cultural contacts, placing them in various historical and geographic contexts. It will raise questions concerning the ambiguities of religious change and concerning the interplay of persecution and toleration. Methodologically, the seminar emphasizes the study of primary sources, including documentary, historiographical, literary and poetical texts. In the course of their study, attention will be paid to peculiarities of genre, and difficulties involved in formulating historical assessments. In this sense, we will also aim at developing critical reading skills in relation to secondary literature. Seniors in Jewish, Islamic, and Middle Eastern Studies will be given preference in admission. Advanced students in other fields are asked to contact the instructor prior to enrollment.
Same as L75 JIMES 4060
L23 Re St 407 Solidarity and Silence: Religious Strategies in the Political Sphere
Although political action is often considered a problem of making oneself heard, religious practices of silence, self-effacement and withdrawal from certain worldly struggles have guided many significant political and social movements, particularly forms of nonviolent resistance. This course considers the role of religious thought and practice in such movements in the 20th century. The history of these movements presents an apparent paradox: How can political action emerge from the supposedly "private" realm of religion in the modern era, particularly its most individualistic formations in contemplative and mystical practices? Does the historical role of these practices in the political sphere complicate their portrayal in some scholarship as private, individual and depoliticizing? With these questions animating our investigations, we will consider the work of authors and activists including Leo Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King Jr., Simone Weil, and William Barber, as well as the history of movements associated with their work. Toward the end of the semester, we will turn to contemporary movements against economic inequality, intimate violence, racially motivated violence, and discrimination toward transgender persons to discuss the use of religious strategies or religiously-derived strategies in current political and social activism. CET course.
Same as L57 RelPol 407
L23 Re St 408 Nuns
Nuns — women vowed to a shared life of poverty, chastity and obedience in a cloistered community — were central figures in medieval and early modern religion and society. This course explores life in the convent, with the distinctive culture that developed among communities of women, and the complex relations between the world of the cloister and the world outside the cloister. We look at how female celibacy served social and political, as well as religious, interests. We read works by nuns: both willing and unwilling; and works about nuns: nuns behaving well, and nuns behaving scandalously badly; nuns embracing their heavenly spouse, and nuns putting on plays; nuns possessed by the devil, and nuns managing their possessions; nuns as enraptured visionaries, and nuns grappling with the mundane realities of life in a cloistered community.
L23 Re St 4102 Rastafari, Reggae, and Resistance
Same as L90 AFAS 4102
L23 Re St 4118 The Good Cause: Psychological Anthropology of Moral Crusades
Why do people join moral crusades? These are social movements based on powerful moral institutions, ranging from the abolitionist and suffragette movements to witch hunts, insurgency and ethnic riots. Such movements are extremely diverse, yet their unfolding and the dynamics of recruitment show remarkably common properties. We will examine a series of empirical cases, including recent events, and assess the relevance of models based on individual psychological dynamics, intuitive moral capacities, and human motivation for participation in collective action.
Same as L48 Anthro 4118
L23 Re St 412 Islamic Theology
This course explores major themes of early Islamic theology as developed by the Mutazilite, Ash'arite, and Maturidi schools. Some attention is paid to defunct theological systems, the traces of which have remained in the heresiographical literature. Most readings are in primary sources in English translation, though the students are also introduced to some secondary literature on various themes. Some comparative theology with reference to the Judeo-Christian tradition is a regular feature of class discussion. Topics include (but are not limited to): debates over the createdness of the Qur'an; predestination and foreknowledge; God's attributes; the nature of language; the nature of the human soul; and creation and afterlife.
L23 Re St 4121 American Religion, Politics, and Culture: Historical Foundations
This seminar offers a wide-ranging overview of the leading historical scholarship concerning the busy intersections of American religion and politics. Topics include: church-state relations, religion and foreign policy, religion and social justice, religion and the science wars, the rise of the Religious Right, and the role of religion in public life. Prerequisites: advanced undergraduate or graduate standing in a related field or permission of instructor.
Same as L57 RelPol 4121
L23 Re St 4122 American Religion, Politics & Culture: Commentary from Alexis de Tocqueville to Contemporary Pundits
This research-oriented seminar involves in-depth historiographical investigation of leading scholarship at the busy intersections of American religion, politics and culture. The second semester focuses on classic and contemporary commentaries on the American religious and political scene from Alexis de Tocqueville through today's leading pundits. Some sessions will include a visiting scholar engaged in cutting-edge research — a feature that will allow seminar members to work with important scholars from beyond the university. Possible topics include: church-state relations, religion and foreign policy, religion and civil rights, religion and the science wars, the rise of the Religious Right, and the role of religion in national elections. The seminar is taught under the auspices of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics and is offered in two complementary parts (though enrollment in either one of the two is certainly possible). Its ambition is to build up a community of inquirers engaged in the core questions that animate the Danforth Center. Prerequisites: advanced undergraduate or graduate standing in AMCS, History, or Religious Studies or permission of instructor.
Same as L57 RelPol 4122
Credit 3 units. A&S IQ: HUM
L23 Re St 413 Topics in Islam
Spring 2019 Topic: History of Political Thought---------This course aims to study political thought and practice in Islamic history (ca.8-13th centuries) through a close reading of a selection of primary sources in translation (and in their original language if language proficiency is satisfactory). Particular attention will be given to historical contexts in which thoughts are espoused and texts written. We plan to examine the development of political concepts and themes as articulated in diverse literary genres (legal, theological, political) from the 8th through the 13th century. We hope to engage various theoretical models to analyze the relationship between politics and religion and tease out the role of power in determining socio-political relations, distinctions, and structures. We hope to have a better grasp on the historicity of ideas presented in timeless categories in political discourse. Prereqs: Advanced knowledge of Arabic preferred but not required.
Same as L75 JIMES 445
L23 Re St 415 Topics in Judaism
Consult Course Listings for current topics. Prerequisite: permission of instructor.
Same as L75 JIMES 415
Credit 3 units.
L23 Re St 418 Sexuality and Gender in East Asian Religions
In this course we will explore the role of women in the religious traditions of China, Japan and Korea, with a focus on Buddhism, Daoism, Shamanism, Shinto and the so-called "New Religions." We will begin by considering the images of women (whether mythical or historical) in traditional religious scriptures and historical or literary texts. We will then focus on what we know of the actual experience and practice of various types of religious women — nuns and abbesses, shamans and mediums, hermits and recluses, and ordinary laywomen — both historically and in more recent times. Class materials will include literary and religious texts, historical and ethnological studies, biographies and memoirs, and occasional videos and films. Prerequisites: This class will be conducted as a seminar, with minimal lectures, substantial reading and writing, and lots of class discussion. For this reason, students who are not either upper-level undergraduates or graduate students, or who have little or no background in East Asian religion or culture, will need to obtain the instructor's permission before enrolling.
L23 Re St 419 Of Zombies, Ghosts, and Ancestors: Interactions of the Living and the Dead in Chinese Religions
This course introduces a basic aspect of the multifaceted history of Chinese religions, culture and civilization by centering on the practice of taking care of the dead. In particular, we will observe how various religious texts, short stories, and plays from China's earliest times until the 16th century depicted the interactions of the living and the dead. Despite the distinct genres, time periods and topics, one important aspect will regularly appear: Apparently people perceived the boundaries between the living and the dead to be quite porous in premodern China. In other words, the dead seemed to have played as much of a role in society and everyday life as living family members, friends and government officials.
L23 Re St 4213 Sufism and Islamic Brotherhoods in Africa
Muslim societies are prevalent in Africa — from the Horn, the North, the East to the West, with smaller conclaves in Central and South Africa. Islam has played an influential role in these diverse societies, particularly through its Sufi form. Even though Sufism originated in the Arabian Peninsula, it has fit well with African beliefs and cultures. This course aims to explore Sufi beliefs, values and practices in Africa. It reconsiders the academic constructions of "African Islam" by exploring education, intellectual life, economics, gender roles, social inequalities and politics. The goal is to show that Africa is a dynamic part of the Muslim world and not a peripheral one, as it is most often portrayed by the international media or historically, through travelers and colonial accounts. African Muslim brotherhoods have served as political mediators between countries and people (i.e., the role of the Tijaniyya in the diplomatic rivalry between Morocco and Algeria, or its role in reconciliation of clanic rivalries in Sudan). In addition, the course pays attention to hierarchy in particular tariqa. Finally, the course examines how African Sufi orders have shaped their teachings to fit transnational demands over the 20th and 21st century. We explore these issues through readings, current media, lectures and special guest speakers.
Same as L90 AFAS 4213
L23 Re St 4225 European Utopian Settlements in the American Midwest (1814-1864): Diversity and Antislavery
During the first part of the 19th century a number of utopian visionaries from Europe (Germany, France and England) tried to establish communities in the American Midwest. These colonies were based either on religious or philosophical/social ideals which could be traced back to interpretations of the Old and the New Testament or to Enlightenment principles of freedom and equality that had been propagated during the revolutions in Europe of 1789, 1830 and 1848 which in turn had been influenced by the American war of independence. These groups showed strong antislavery convictions. The Midwest was chosen since the areas in the vicinity of the confluence of the Mississippi and the Missouri were seen as open to new social experiments. Part of the seminar are field trips to the St. Louis-based Missouri History Library as well as to the St. Louis Public Library and one-day excursions to New Harmony in Indiana, Nauvoo in Illinois, and to small towns in Warren County, Missouri.
Same as L97 IAS 4225
L23 Re St 4250 Law, Religion, and Politics
What is the role of religious argument in politics and law? What kinds of arguments are advanced, and how do they differ from one another? Are some of these arguments more acceptable than others in a liberal democracy? This course will explore these questions through the work of legal scholars, theologians and political theorists. Our topics include the nature of violence and coercion in the law, constraints on public reason, the relationship between religion and government, and the nature of religious practice and tradition.
Same as L57 RelPol 425
L23 Re St 4300 Pilgrims and Seekers: American Spirituality from Transcendentalism to the Present
This seminar focuses on the formation of "spirituality" in American culture, from the Transcendentalist world of Ralph Waldo Emerson on through more recent expressions of the "spiritual-but-not-religious" sensibility. How did "spirituality" come to be seen as something positively distinct from "organized religion"? What are the main contours of spiritual seeking in American culture, especially among those who claim no specific religious affiliation? The course also explores the social, political, and cultural consequences of this turn to the spiritual over the religious: for example, the consecration of liberal individualism, the relationship of religious exploration to both environmentalism and consumerism, the politics of cultural appropriation, the negotiation of religious pluralism, and the pursuit of the spiritual in art.
Same as L57 RelPol 430
L23 Re St 432 Early Christianity and Classical Culture
This course explores the development of Early Christianity from the Apostolic fathers (late first century CE) to Augustine in the fifth century. We will be focused on contextualizing these early Christian communities within the classical Greek and Roman worlds through which they spread, examining their engagement with Greco-Roman models of rhetoric, philosophy and literature. Prerequisites: L23 307F Introduction to the New Testament or previous work in Classical Studies recommended but not required.
L23 Re St 4357 The Holocaust in the Sephardic World
The course provides students with a comprehensive understanding of the Holocaust, of its impact on the Sephardic world, of present-day debates on the "globalization" of the Holocaust, and of the ways in which these debates influence contemporary conflicts between Jews, Muslims and Christians in Southern Europe and North Africa. We will turn to the history of these conflicts, and study the Sephardic diaspora by focusing on the consequences that the 1492 expulsion had within the Iberian Peninsula, in Europe, and in the Mediterranean world. We will study Sephardic communities in Europe and North Africa and their interactions with Christians and Muslims before World War II. Once we have examined the history of the Holocaust and its impact on the Sephardic world in a more general sense, our readings will focus on the different effects of the Holocaust's "long reach" into Southeastern Europe, the Balkans, and North Africa, paying close attention to interactions among Jews, local communities, and the Nazi invaders. Finally, we will address the memory of the Sephardic experience of the Holocaust, and the role of Holocaust commemoration in different parts of the world. We will approach these topics through historiographies, memoirs, novels, maps, poetry and film.
Same as L97 IAS 4357
L23 Re St 4366 Europe's New Diversities
Since the late 1980s, three major upheavals have transformed European senses of identity. The demise of the Soviet Union has forced citizens of new "post-socialist' nations to forge new senses of belonging and new strategies of survival. The rise of a new public presence of Islam and the growth of children of Muslim immigrants to adulthood have challenged notions that Europe is a secular or post-Christian space. Finally, the heightened authority of European institutions has challenged the nation-state from above, and the granting of new forms of subnational autonomy to regions and peoples has challenged it from below. The new Europe is increasingly constituted by way of regional identifications, transnational movement(s), and umbrella European legal and political organizations; these new realities occasion new rhetorics of secularism, nationalism, and ethnic loyalties. We examine these forms of diversity, movement, and debate by way of new works in anthropology, sociology and political science.
Same as L48 Anthro 4366
L23 Re St 4380 Islam, Transnationalism, and the African Diaspora
This course is designed for students who are interested in religion among African immigrants and African diaspora communities living mostly, but not exclusively, in Europe and North America, especially during waves of migration to the Americas. We begin in the days of the transatlantic slave trade, where we examine how interactions, bricolage, and influences of Christianity, Judaism, African indigenous religions, and Islam have impacted the African diaspora living in the Americas. We equally examine how Islam served as a means of resistance to slavery and provided a spiritual connection with the motherland.
Same as L90 AFAS 438
L23 Re St 4400 Religion, Politics, and the University
This course explores in depth current issues related to pluralism, difference, and belonging in matters pertaining to religion and other important issues, with a particular focus on how these play out in the university context. The instructors, John Inazu and Eboo Patel, are two of the leading national commentators on these issues. Prerequisite: Students enrolling in this class must submit a brief statement of interest to Professor John Inazu.
Same as L57 RelPol 440
L23 Re St 4401 Topics in Rabbinic Texts
The course aims to introduce students to independent reading of selected rabbinic texts in the original language. We will focus on a number of topics representing the range of rabbinic discussion, including legal, narrative, and ethical issues. At the same time, we will study the necessary linguistic tools for understanding rabbinic texts. Prerequisites: HBRW 385 or HBRW 401 or instructor's permission.
Same as L74 HBRW 440
L23 Re St 444 The Mystical Tradition in Judaism
What is Jewish "mysticism"? What is its relationship to the category of "religion"? Is Jewish mysticism just one form of a general phenomenon common to a variety of religious traditions or is it a specific interpretation of biblical, rabbinic, and other Jewish traditions? Taking the above questions as a starting point, this course aims at a systematic and historically contextualized analysis of a broad range of Jewish texts that are commonly classified as "mystical." (All primary texts are read in translation.) At the same time, we explore such overarching themes as: the interplay of esoteric exegesis of the Bible and visionary experiences; the place of traditional Jewish law (halakhah) within mystical thought and practice; the role of gender, sexuality, and the body in Jewish mystical speculation and prayer; the relationship between mysticism and messianism; Ashkenazic and Sephardic traditions and their mutual impact on Jewish mysticism; the "absence of women" from Jewish mystical movements; esoteric traditions of an elite vs. mysticism as a communal endeavor; and the tension between innovation and (the claim to) tradition in the history of Jewish mysticism.
L23 Re St 4491 American Unbelief from the Enlightenment to the New Atheism
This seminar examines American secularism, humanism, and atheism from the Enlightenment forward to the present. Topics emphasized include: the relationship between believers and nonbelievers, the civil liberties of atheists, religion in the public schools, social radicalism and women's rights, and the more recent growth of religious disaffiliation and public atheism. The course considers not only the intellectual dimensions of freethinking unbelief but also the broader politics of secularism in a nation routinely imagined as "under God."
Same as L57 RelPol 4491
L23 Re St 4711 Topics in Religious Studies: Gender and Religion in China
In this course, we explore the images, roles and experience of women in Chinese religions: Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism, and so-called "popular" religion. Topics discussed include: gender concepts, norms and roles in each religious tradition; notions of femininity and attitudes toward the female body; biographies of women in Confucian, Daoist, and Buddhist literature; female goddesses and deities; and the place of the Buddhist and Daoist nun and laywoman in Chinese society. All readings are in English or in English translation. Prerequisite: senior/graduate standing. Students with no previous background in Chinese religion, literature or culture need to obtain instructor's permission before enrolling.
Credit 3 units. A&S IQ: HUM, LCD
L23 Re St 479 Senior Seminar in Religious Studies
The topic for this seminar differs every year. Previous topics include Religion and Violence; Governing Religion; Saints and Society; and Religion and the Secular: Struggles over Modernity. The seminar is offered every spring semester and is required of all Religious Studies majors, with the exception of those writing an honors thesis. The class is also open, with the permission of the instructor, to other advanced undergraduates with previous coursework in Religious Studies.
L23 Re St 4790 Advanced Seminar: Empire and Messianism in the Middle East
Senior Seminar: This course looks at imperial politics in its relations to monotheistic messianic movements and ideologies in the Islamic Mediterranean from the late antiquity to the 16th century. Messianic beliefs offered political hope, rallied opposition against the existing rule, defined and ordered lived reality for imperial subjects, presented a political leitmotiv for rulers, and advocated a just sociopolitical order to be realized in the immediate or indefinite future. Thus, this course attempts to see how politics became messianic by its very ability to promise a better future. Despite the chronological scope of the course, we examine only specific ideas, practices and movements as case studies to study in depth various facets of messianic movements and thought in their geographic and historical context. We use primary sources, which are the main methodological focus of the course, and secondary literature. We aim to develop skills in identifying, reading, analyzing and dealing with primary sources in their variety and critically engaging modern scholarship on the political role of Messianism. Students write a term paper and several reports on preassigned readings, and make regular class presentations. Admission preference is given to graduating seniors in JIMES, but the course is open to all advanced students provided that they consult the instructor prior to enrolling. Knowledge of a relevant primary source language is highly desired but not required.
Same as L75 JIMES 4970
L23 Re St 480 Topics in Buddhist Traditions
This course focuses on a selected theme in the study of Buddhism. Please refer to the course listings for a description of the current offering.
L23 Re St 490 Topics in Islamic Thought
This course focuses on a selected theme in the study of Islam and Islamic Thought. Please refer to the course listings for a description of the current offering.
Credit 3 units. A&S IQ: HUM, LCD
L23 Re St 495 Religion and the State: Global Mission, Global Empire
This course explores the complex intersections among U.S. political power on a global stage, and religious institutions and identities. Readings and discussions are organized around two very broad questions. First: How has this nation's history been shaped by religious "others" both inside and outside its borders? Second: How have perceptions of those others in turn affected U.S. responses to circumstances of global consequence — including, for example, foreign policy and diplomacy, missionary activity, and economic practices?
Same as L57 RelPol 495
L23 Re St 498 Independent Work for Senior Honors I
Investigation of a topic, chosen in conjunction with a faculty adviser, on which the student prepares a paper and is examined. Students enroll in L23 Re St 498 in the fall semester and L23 Re St 499 in the spring semester. Prerequisite: admission to the Honors Program.
Credit 3 units.
L23 Re St 499 Independent Work for Senior Honors II
Investigation of a topic, chosen in conjunction with a faculty adviser, on which the student prepares a paper and is examined. Students enroll in L23 Re St 498 in the fall semester and L23 Re St 499 in the spring semester. Prerequisite: admission to the Honors Program.
Credit 3 units.
L23 Re St 4993 Advanced Seminar in History: Women and Religion in Medieval Europe
This course explores the religious experience of women in medieval Europe and attempts a gendered analysis of the Christian Middle Ages. In it, we examine the religious experience of women in a variety of settings — from household to convent. In particular, we try to understand how and why women came to assume public roles of unprecedented prominence in European religious culture between the 12th century and the 16th, even though the institutional church barred them from the priesthood and religious precepts remained a principal source of the ideology of female inferiority.
Same as L22 History 4993
L23 Re St 49CA Advanced Seminar in History: Religion and the Secular: Critical Perspectives from South Asia
A generation ago, scholars and observers around the world felt assured that modernization would bring the quiet retreat of religion from public life. But the theory of secularization now stands debunked by world events, and a host of questions has been reopened. This course provides students with a forum to think through these issues as they prepare research papers on topics of their own choosing.
Same as L22 History 49CA
L23 Re St 49JK Advance Seminar in History: Blood and Sacred Bodies: Ritual Murder and Host Desecration Accusations
This seminar follows the history of the ritual murder and Host desecration accusations from the origins in 12th- and 13th-century Europe to the 20th century. It pays close attention to the social and political functions of the narratives; their symbolic importance in Christianity’s salviric drama; attacks on such beliefs from both within and outside the community of the faithful; the suppression and decline of the ritual murder accusation; the integration of Jews into European societies in the 19th century; and the reappearance of the blood libel in the aftermath of emancipation.
Same as L22 History 49JK